Thursday, November 13, 2008

Batik signals to Land Lease

Pix: The Borneo Post

The Sarawak State Government led by Abdul Taib Mahmud had put the clamp on reasonable period of land tenure and ownershp and curtailed it to 30 years. The uproar caused great loss to the SUPP a local BN component member in the March, 2008 General Elections.

The implications on shorter tenure are obvious. The fees for lease renewal would drive ownership to Taib's cronies. Can this be changed? Will there be reforms? PKR ran a campaign to collect signatures for 'Change to Sarawak Land Code' in addition to earlier one arganized by others, and submitted a memorandum to the State Legislature.

3 signatories to the Memorandum came down to Kuching from Baram to bear witness to the event and took the opportunity to attend the State Legislature in session. They weren't allowed entry. They were wearing Batik shirts, the Malaysian national attire.

No one is uncertain, that any move to land reforms will be stifled.

PKR submits land memorandum to State Legislative Assembly

November 12, 2008, The Borneo Post [Print Edition]

A MEMORANDUM was presented to the State Legislative Assembly by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) yesterday.

PKR Sarawak liaison chief, Dominique Ng (Padungan), made clear the latest memorandum “is separate from Monday’s, but also concerns land matters”.

Entitled ‘Change to Sarawak Land Code’, it requested the state government to amend the Sarawak Land Code “to be in line with Sabah and Semenanjung Malaysia”.

It added: “We want to be able to have 99 or 999 years lease. We request the government to help us by extending our lease to 99 or 999 years in line with the rest of Malaysia.”

The document also urged the state government to allow lease renewal “20 years before the expiry date, so that we can charge our land to the banks and obtain loans in order to develop our land”.

“We have about 1,000 signatures for this (the second) memorandum,” Ng told reporters, after Dewan secretary

Abang Othman Abang Fatah received the documents.

“The signatories come from throughout Sarawak, from Lundu... to Baram. Their message is very simple, that they want the state government to understand their problems are real and genuine, and is facing them right now.”

Meanwhile, the first memorandum, presented after abriefpicket the day before, was regarding Native Customary Rights.

Ng described the memorandums as “the people’s response”.

“They signed the petition because they are concerned about land leases, which affect urban and rural areas. They signed and came here on their own accord,” the opposition member said.

“At the same time, I would also like to thank the (Dewan) secretary, who was kind enough to receive the two petitions.”

In a separate incident, three of the six signatories from Baram, present with Ng yesterday, were briefly denied entry into the assembly’s public gallery because they were wearing Batik shirts, but without neckties.

A security guard told Ng thai dress rules had to be adhered tc strictly in the Dewan.

However, three others with neckties were allowed in, which prompted Ng to ask the guard:

“They do just need a tie? All right, I’ll get them some (neckties) from my car.”

The trio was allowed in moments later.

“This is a national attire and yet they were not allowed in,” Ng told reporters later. “I hope that ruling can be changed.”

Meanwhile, Tan Joo Phoi (BN Batu Kawa), when asked regarding, the matter did not disagree.

“At most government depart. ments, we encourage employees, once a week, usually on Fridays, to wear Batik,” Tan said.

On whether batik should be allowed in the assembly, hc replied: "I'm not very sure about this. You must ask the Speaker... But personally, I think it should be allowed as long as the ‘batik’ is worn in a formal way.”

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